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274Southern Cultures Graphie Arts & the South: Proceedings of the 1990 North American Print Conference . Edited by Judy L. Larson and Cynthia Payne. University of Arkansas Press, 1993. 277 pp. Cloth, $40.00. Reviewed by Leo Mazow, a doctoral candidate in the art department at the University ofNorth Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he is writing his dissertation, "George Inness: Problems in Antimodemism." He has taughtAmerican art history at Chapel Hill, and is cunently a research associate in American art at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Graphic Arts & the South is an important addition to a sorely neglected field of study. Substituting the breadth of a monograph with the critical focus of nine illuminating, if uneven, essays, this collection showcases the work of leading scholars in art history and American cultural history. Graphic Arts & the South may well be the first text to probe in depth the role of printmakers, publishers, writers, and photographers in the social production of a southern iconography. In an opening essay, "The Half Horse-Half Alligator and other Southern Members of the Jacksonian Bestiary," David Tatham explores the allegorical meanings southern artists and writers encoded in savage, hybrid animals. In David Claypoole Johnston's 1829 A Ginooine Buster, the subject's "half this-half that" nature combines the toughness of an alligator and the tenacity of a horse. By contrast, the docile bears and alligators in Davy Crockett Almanacs suggest raw nature tamed and domesticated—a fitting metaphor for intensely expansionist Jacksonian America. Many of the prints Tatham discusses were published in the North, suggesting that these images assigned to the South a set of traits— obdurate and crafty but silly and unenlightened—and supported an emerging sectional consciousness. Georgia B. Barnhill explores printmaker "F.O.C. Darley's Illustrations for Southern Humor." Darley's work was commissioned by the Philadelphia publisher Carey and Hart for the Library of Humorous American Works series. Barnhill's gleaning of the publisher's "cost-books" adds greatly to our understanding of the low status of graphic illustration as a fine art—Darley was often paid less for his drawings than the engraver who transferred them to wood. It would have been interesting for Barnhill to consider the text Darley was illustrating. For example, Darley's 1846 engraving, She approached the thick leafed table, depicts bumpkins who think a new piano is a strange animal rather than a musical instrument . More than merely illustrating a humorous text, Darley seems to conspire here with a northern author and publisher to ridicule the unrefined South. While Darley's images straddle a fine line between humor and ridicule, David Hunter Strother's text and engravings, which appeared in Harper's Monthly from 1850 to 1875, posit refinement in the backwoods, grandeur in the vernacular. Jessie J. Poesch provides an illuminating examination of this Virginia artist-journalist's uncanny ability to insert classical themes into amusing backwoods tales. As a cataloger of "men of manners," Strother played the role of folklorist and archivist as well as illustrator and journalist. Although Strother was politically conservative, his judgement-free descriptive eloquence made him appealing to the notoriously neutral Harper's. If Strother portrayed the southern hinterlands with egalitarian respect, Frederick Law Olmsted inscribed there his own privileged, staunchly Unionist sensibility. Dana F. White compares these competing views of the South in her "Two Perspectives on the Cotton Kingdom." Both illustrators flaunted their remarkable powers of observation in their gracefully linear landscapes of thatched cottages and monumentally simple peasants. Yet Reviews275 where Strother romanticized landscape and local cultures, Olmsted evoked landscape for moral and political instruction. For example, Strother's The Dismal Swamp suggests remote marshes as sites of sublime mystery and amusing anecdotes. In contrast, Olmsted's Runaways in the Swamp gives southern swamplands an abolitionist agenda, pointing out that they are "noted places for runaway negroes." White concludes by suggesting that Strother has not enjoyed Olmsted's popularity because he worked in two media, in effect spreading himself too thin, appeasing his diverse readership at every turn. In "The South as It Was," Gregg D. Kimball shows how selected engravings made the social and industrial transformations of the Civil War and Reconstruction more palatable to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1488
Print ISSN
1068-8218
Pages
pp. 247-276
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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